Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Repair
Most Atrial Septal Defects (ASDs) can be repaired by guiding a catheter through a blood vessel up into the heart. An umbrella-shaped device is then passed through the catheter into the defect. This prevents blood from flowing through the opening. This type of procedure is performed by interventional cardiologists.
If the defect is particularly large, surgery is required. The operation to repair an ASD is performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep during surgery.
First, the surgeon makes a vertical incision in the front of the chest, opens the breastbone, and exposes the heart. Blood from the heart is redirected to a bypass machine. The bypass machine does the job of the heart and lungs during the operation.
The surgeon then opens the heart and identifies the defect. If the defect is small, he stitches it closed. If it is large, he cuts small a piece of the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart) in the size and shape of the defect, and uses this tissue as a patch.
After the defect is repaired and the heart and pericardium closed, the surgeon shuts down the heart-lung bypass machine, and the heart starts beating again. The surgeon then closes the breastbone and chest incision, and applies bandages to the incision site.